“The Frontiers Report identifies and offers solutions to three environmental issues that merit attention and action from governments and the public at large,” said UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen.
Noise, Blazes and Mismatches: Emerging Issues of Environmental Concern, the sixth report, draws attention to emerging environmental concerns with the potential to wreak regional or global havoc, if not addressed early.
The world’s most relied-upon renewable energy source isn’t wind or sunlight, but water. Last year, the world’s hydropower capacity reached a record 1,308 gigawatts (to put this number in perspective, just one gigawatt is equivalent to the power produced by 1.3 million race horses or 2,000 speeding Corvettes). Utilities throughout the globe rely upon hydropower to generate electricity because it is cheap, easily stored and dispatched, and produced with no fuel combustion, meaning it won’t release carbon dioxide or pollutants the way power plants burning fossil fuels such as coal or natural gas do.
As with other energy sources, however, hydropower is not without an environmental cost. Beyond the profound ecosystem impact of damming and diverting huge waterways, hydropower can wreak havoc on native aquatic species and their ecosystems. The majority of watersheds around the world – some of which have operated on hydropower for more than a century – are highly degraded, with polluted waterways and outmoded technology. Traditional reservoirs are often stagnant bodies of water; because of this, they are frequently sites of harmful algal blooms, or HABs, which are toxic to people, fish, shellfish, marine mammals and birds.
As well as profoundly altering the watercourse, large hydro dams can be a death-zone for fish. As well as obstructing their migratory routes, the fast-spinning turbine blades can cut them. If they make it past the blades, sudden changes in pressure can kill the fish, as can shear forces during passage through the turbine.
The World Shipping Council, the Washington, D.C.-based trade association representing international liner shipping, is sharing for the first time concrete regulatory and economic pathways that it believes the International Maritime Organization must take up in order for the shipping industry to achieve zero carbon emissions.
The WSC has identified six regulatory and economic pathways forward, which WSC says are critical for the nations of the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO) to address for a successful maritime energy transition.